Out Here in the Wyld: Chef Tony Seichrist's Vision

View of The Wyld on the scenic Country Club Creek in Savannah.

Chef Tony Seichrist had a simple vision to create a dining experience like no other. The Wyld feels like a getaway, a trip away from town, while never leaving savannah.

Tucked away in the lush marshes of the Coastal Empire of Savannah is a hidden gem – a place where the land and water converge to create a casual, comfortable retreat on the banks of Country Club Creek. The Wyld Dock Bar is the perfect place to grab a drink, indulge in a leisurely lunch, or enjoy a dinner backdropped by a waterfront sunset. Whatever you want The Wyld to be, it is.

“I want [guests] to feel like they are getting out of Savannah and it’s somewhere far away, but it’s not,” Executive Chef and Founder Tony Seichrist said. His vision was to construct a place that was more getaway than restaurant, like each dinner was an escape to a different destination altogether. And if you’ve ever been to The Wyld, you’d agree that his dream has been realized – with a sweeping view of undulating marshland and coveted saltwater access, this cozy, creek-side cottage is just what Savannah needed –delicious, locally sourced food without pretense or tourist pricing.

And the cocktail menu cannot be beat.

Opened in 2015, The Wyld has been an immediate hit among locals and tourists alike, each drawn to its al fresco experience and modern menu. Its thoughtful layout makes each section of the restaurant an adventure – from the fire pit to the oyster roast tables to the bocce court to the waterfront deck, every part of the restaurant is crafted with casual outdoor exploration in mind. And even though it’s only two years old, it looks like it’s always been there, a tribute to the consideration taken when renovating the structure.

In fact, when Tony and his partner were building the restaurant, Tony actually slept on the property one evening in a hammock. Throughout the night and into the next morning, he saw a mink, a bald eagle, and a group of ducks whose species is endangered, and he thought to himself: ‘Wow, this is like being out in the wild.’ And thus the name was born. He astutely instructed his designer to change the “i” to a “y” to give it a stylistic edge, and it’s been The Wyld ever since.

Drawing from his memories of vacationing on Fripp Island when he was young, Tony crafted a strategy to his unique food at The Wyld. He acts as a hunter-gatherer, procuring his ingredients from different purveyors around the South to source what’s freshest and in season at the time, just like his family did when staying on Fripp Island. Tony remembers seeking out the ingredients for family dinners with his mother from all different parts of the island – from the marina to the market to surrounding farms, the pair stitched together a homegrown menu with fresh seafood and delicious produce for each family gathering.

Tony Seichrist catching live blue crab off his 34 foot Pursuit.

“I come from a big food family. My mom always has cooked and gardened, and she was the first person I ever learned to cook from,” Tony said.

Coupled with his experience as a professional fisherman, Tony utilizes his experiences and applies them to the food at The Wyld, letting the beauty and simplicity of the food speak for itself. Each dish is composed of a variety of handpicked ingredients that alone are delicious, but together create something entirely new and ingenious. Take the Steamed Banana Leaf Fish Tacos, for example. Served deconstructed, each element of these tacos is truly scrumptious, but when compiled together, the result is something completely different and brilliant – a flavorful bundle of fresh fish, fragrant basil, tangy lime and pungent tomato jam. It’s really quite tasty.

The best part? Tony has begun relying on his own fishing dexterity to hunt and gather himself, using a 34-foot Pursuit to head out on the water and check his crab pots for new visitors. Depending on the size of his catch, he serves crab, usually prepared whole, as a special that evening. And eventually, he’d like to expand from crabbing and source most of the local seafood served on the menu himself.

“When you’re a seafood restaurant and 75 percent [of what you serve] is incredibly perishable and you have the skill set to catch your own, it sort of makes sense,” Tony said of his fishing. “I’ve been a fisherman my entire life – it’s the only thing I’ve kept up with for about 34 years.”

Mouth watering seared ahi tuna

 

To read more about Chef Tony Seichrist, subscribe now or pick up the June/July issue of South magazine.